SINGAPORE - While working for a weight-loss firm and a skincare company, a woman invented beauty packages - which the two businesses did not offer - and cheated 24 victims of more than $630,000.
Of the total amount cheated, the victims handed at least $269,992.82 to Ong Siok Yong, and the remainder to the two companies.
Ong, 35, who was in remand, was sentenced on Wednesday (March 17) to four years' jail after pleading guilty to two cheating charges. The court heard that the Malaysian committed the offences from 2016 to 2019.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim said that, among other things, Ong invented a "model package" while working for weight-loss firm Bottom Slim in 2016.
She introduced it to customers she was more familiar with, varying the price and terms depending on their spending power.
In January 2017, she started working for skincare firm Asian Skin Solution where she continued offering the "model package" to customers.
Citing one victim, the DPP said that Ong introduced it to her in 2018.
As part of the terms, the woman was told that she had to use the company's treatment services at least twice a month and regular photographs would be taken to document her "progress".
The woman was also told that she had to pay the firm about $24,000 to sign up for the package. Ong then claimed that the firm would pay the victim monthly reimbursements of $1,166.60 for 36 consecutive months, totalling $41,997.60.
The DPP said that to continue with the scam, Ong used cash received from her victims to pay for the monthly reimbursements.
The unsuspecting victim agreed to sign up for the "model package". Between Aug 18 and Sept 3, 2018, she transferred more than $23,000 to Ong's personal bank account as the con woman claimed that her employer did not have one.
The victim did not receive her reimbursements after August 2018 and instead received intermittent payments of up to $1,000. In October that year, Ong asked her to sign up for a second "model package".
Ong claimed that payments currently outstanding to the victim would be applied towards this second package, which would then "entitle (her) to more products and treatments".
The woman transferred cash totalling more than $33,000 to Ong's bank account later that year. She continued buying more packages after this, the court heard.
In all, Ong induced the victim to hand over more than $100,000 and reimbursed her about $33,000. The DPP said that Ong cheated the other victims in a similar manner.
The offences came to light after an Asian Skin Solution employee lodged a police report in June 2019, stating that Ong appeared to have cheated some of its customers.
Both Bottom Slim and Asian Skin Solution have since taken measures to mitigate their customers' losses.
DPP Lim told the court: "Though they declined to make any money payments to the customers that the accused had promised, they are in the process of arranging to provide customers with treatments and products to compensate them for their investment.
"They have also reimbursed some customers for transfers which were made to the company."
An offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each count of cheating.